Not so fast: Don’t expect Porsche and Mercedes to roll over the competition in 2019 Formula E series

German car manufacturers latest to join world’s fastest-growing motor racing series but they can’t expect to dominate championship, according to NextEV NIO team principal Gerry Hughes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 9:20am

Porsche and Mercedes have been warned not to expect instant success when they make the switch to Formula E in 2019.

Porsche and Mercedes announced within days of each other last month that they will enter the Formula E championship in 2019. Mercedes said they would be leaving the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) touring car series.

Manufacturers already involved or committed to being involved in the all-electric racing series include Jaguar, BMW and Audi – and Porsche and Mercedes are the latest big manufacturers to be joining the world’s fastest-growing motorsport series.

NextEV NIO team principal Gerry Hughes said: “It’s great for the series and great for the sport if they [Porsche and Mercedes] are coming in in season six [2019].

“It’s only going to make the championship stronger and it’s going to make the level of competition more fierce.”

However, Hughes warned Porsche, who this year won Le Mans for the third year in a row, and Formula One giants Mercedes are not going to find it easy going in Formula E despite their enormous successes.

“To think Mercedes and Porsche will whitewash the series is probably a bit naive,” said Hughes.

“No doubt they have a lot of resources but I have been involved with big manufacturers in the British Touring Car Championship [series] and to think that one of them will come along and completely dominate is perhaps a bit short sighted, but we will have to see.

“It’s great for the series for them to be involved for sure.”

Hughes added: “They will come in with a measured approach. Porsche in particular and Mercedes in DTM have got years and years worth of experience in motorsport and they will put that to good use.

I can’t wait to return to Hong Kong, says new Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi

“But there are two elements to a race team. It’s the technology and car that you design, build and manufacture. There’s also the approach side of it and it’s an unusual sport at the moment with two cars for each a driver.

“They [Porsche and Mercedes] will have to learn the series as much as everybody else did. If you look at the experiences of Jaguar this year, it’s not all been plain sailing.

“So one has to remember that – there’s fierce competition. Renault are clearly the benchmark in season three, but whether they will continue to be like in season four, we’ll have to wait and see.”

NextEV NIO driver Oliver Turvey echoed Hughes’ sentiments, saying: “It’s good that we will be going up against the more established manufacturers. Our aim is to beat them and that can only make NextEV [NIO] a stronger company.”

With Formula E crowning their third champion in three seasons after Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi took the season’s drivers’ championship, Hughes said the Formula E series proved just how competitive it is.

20,000 fans to get free tickets to eVillage for this year’s Hong Kong ePrix

“In motorsport, when it goes wrong, it goes wrong. I feel a bit sorry for [Renault e.dams’ Sebastien] Buemi because he had a very difficult weekend.

“Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Having said that, it’s good for the championship to have changes or have some diversity in terms of who’s the champion.

“For Lucas [Di Grassi] to be the champion it’s good as it shows not one person or one team can dominate everything. He’s [Di Grassi] been knocking on the door for a while and he’s done a good job.”

Turvey agreed, saying the likeable Brazilian deserved to be champion.

“He’s been fighting for the championship for three years. He just missed out in season one and season two. He’s been strong in all seasons.

“It’s great to have three [different] champions. And each championship came down to the final race.”